Let’s face it, being a parent is plenty of work. You’re on duty as a counselor, cook, coach, maid, nurse, chauffeur and educator. One strategy to cope with the stress of parenthood is to incorporate relaxing kids’ activities into your schedule: activities like card playing and marbles, for instance. Not only are these activities fun and relaxing, they also strengthen your child’s attention span and ability to focus. Here’s some low key activities to add to your schedule.
Things you need:
–bouncy ball (about as big around as a quarter)
–paper and pencil to keep score
For younger players, a tennis ball and shoe box is all you need (plus the paper and pencil).
What to do: Simply fold the sock and place it in the bottom of the bowl to get started. (Skip this step if you’re using a tennis ball and shoebox.)
Games to play: The key to this activity is to play each game separately. In other words, don’t just sit down and bounce the ball in the bowl until boredom sets in. Instead, follow the rules of each game, keep score, and recognize that your child’s efforts to improve the results are an important part of the activity.
Game 1: The object of this game is to see who can bounce the ball into the bowl the most times in a row. Player one begins by bouncing the ball into the bowl. Player one continues until missing. Write down the result. Now player two takes a turn, and the result is recorded. The player who makes the most in a row scores a point. Play again–the first player to score ten points wins.
Variations on Game 1:
-Determine the winner by calculating the total score. For instance, if player one scores 2,6,3,4,0,8,11,3,7,5 then the total score is 49. The player with the highest total score wins.
-Determine the winner by calculating the average score. For instance, if player one scores 3,5,4,0,0,6,8,1,3,5 then the average score is 3.5 (all scores added, then divided by number of scores: that’s 35 divided by ten= 3.5). The player with the highest average score wins.
-Determine the winner by calculating the mode score. To do this, take eleven turns each instead of ten. Now arrange the scores from lowest to highest, and take the score in the middle. For instance, if player one scores a 3,2,5,7,6,0,0,2,9,6,4 then arrange the scores as follows: 0,0,2,2,3,4,5,6,6,7,9. The middle score is 4. That’s the mode. The player with the highest mode wins.
Game 2: The object of this game is to see who can make it the most times in the bowl in ten attempts. Player one begins by trying ten times to bounce the ball into the bowl. Write down the result. Now player two makes ten attempts, and the result is recorded. The player who bounces the ball into the bowl the most times scores a point. The first player to score five points wins.
Variations on Game 2:
-Only even numbered scores are counted. For instance, if player one makes the ball into the bowl 7 times, and player two makes the ball into the bowl 6 times, then discard the 7. Player two wins that round (with a 6) and scores a point.
– Every time a player makes three in a row, that player gets an extra chance (which is added to the ten original chances). For instance, if player one makes the first six in a row, then misses one, then player one earned two more chances, making a total of twelve chances instead of ten.
-Super challenge: at any point a player may super challenge another player’s last score. To do so, double the score of the player you are challenging. Now you must surpass the doubled score. For instance, if player two’s last score was a 3, then double the score to a 6. Now take your turn. If you score a 7 or better, you knock player one out of the game. If you score a 6 or less, you are knocked out of the game.
Game 3: The object of this game is to be the last person to make the ball into the bowl. Player one begins by trying to bounce the ball in the bowl. If player one makes it, you must make it, or player one scores a point. If player one misses, and you make it, you score a point. If both players make it, continue taking turns until someone misses. The first player to score ten points wins.
Variations on Game 3:
-Use a more challenging vessel, for instance an empty oatmeal container instead of a bowl. Now give each player three chances to make it instead of one chance. If player one does not make it in three attempts, and you make one of your three attempts, you score a point, etc.
-Keep track of how many successful attempts are made in a round, then give the total number to the player who wins the round. For example, if player one makes it, then player two makes it, back and forth seven times, then player two misses: player one wins 7 points for that round. The first player to score 50 points wins.
-Running up the score: if player one misses, then player two keeps bouncing the ball into the bowl until a miss occurs. If player two makes it eleven times, then player two scores eleven points for that round. The first player to score 50 points wins.
-See who can make it the most times into the bowl in one minute.
-When playing any game, wrap two or three rubber bands around the bowl so the opening is partially blocked.
-Use negative points, such that a miss counts as a minus one.
There’s no shortage of ways to play bouncy ball games. The key is to stick with the rules of a particular game before introducing a variation. This approach will cultivate your child’s recognition of subtle differences, and allow strategies to form based on those differences. Observe how easily your child sinks into these activities and focuses on improving the results. Your child’s interest and focus, combined with the fact that the games allow you to sit comfortably in one place, are what make these kids’ activities so relaxing. Keep in mind also that the data in theses games are an excellent source to make saw tooth graphs- and what could be better, really, than having your child motivated about making a graph (because it’s her scores that are being charted).
Best of luck!